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Methodism

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Methodism is a denomination of Protestant Christianity that was founded in Britain in the eighteenth century by John Wesley. Its name comes from a belief that any person can achieve salvation by living a certain way (ie by following a 'method'); this makes it distinct from some other denominations such as Calvinism that believe in predestination.[1] John Wesley had previously been ordained as an Anglican priest, meaning that Methodists are able to claim apostolic succession for their ordained ministers (although they also give an important role to lay people.[2])

Historically, Methodism was associated with the temperance movement, which opposed the drinking of alcohol. To this day many Methodists are teetotal, and Methodist worship is notable for downplaying Holy Communion; Methodists generally only take Communion a few times a year, and may use grape juice instead of wine.

Methodist services are characterised by a free structure compared to Anglican or Catholic services, with less formal liturgy and a stronger emphasis on preaching. Many Methodist hymns are still used, many of which were written by John Wesley's brother Charles. The best-known of these hymns remain popular with Anglican congregations.

Methodists study the Bible to know it well, although they are unlikely to read it in a straightforward or literal manner as they consider understanding the context in which it was written to be important.[3] Methodists see their religion as founded on a 'quadrilateral', which takes its lead from tradition, reason and direct experience of God as well as holy texts.[4]

In Great Britain, the Methodist Church currently has over a quarter of a million members (enough for most medium-sized towns to have an active congregation). The movement has achieved significant success, and claims some 70 million members worldwide.[5]

References

  1. Wesleyan Theology
  2. Methodist Church of Great Britain: A grassroots movement
  3. Methodist Church of Great Britain: Reading the Bible
  4. The Methodist Quadrilateral
  5. Methodist Church of Great Britain: Membership
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